Class 1 Devotional: An Invitation to Explore

The Hebrew scriptures, what Christians call the Old Testament (OT), are treasured by Jews, Muslims, Christians, and even many who do not embrace faith.

Why? What is so special about this collection of writings that it stands the test of time?

What’s in the OT?

The Protestant Bible includes 39 OT books. These books generally align with the 24 scrolls of the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) comprised of the Torah (Law), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (writings). The main difference is in the grouping: In the Hebrew scriptures the following books are each one scroll: 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, and the Twelve minor prophets.

Hebrew Scriptures: The 24 Books of the Tanakh
Torah (Law) Nevi’im (Prophets) Ketuvim (Writings)
1. Genesis 6. Joshua 14. Psalms
2. Exodus 7. Judges 15. Proverbs
3. Leviticus 8. Samuel 16. Job
4. Numbers 9. Kings 17. Song of Songs
5. Deuteronomy 10. Isaiah 18. Ruth
11. Jeremiah 19. Lamentations
12. Ezekiel 20. Ecclesiastes
13. The Twelve (Minor Prophets) 21. Esther
22. Daniel
23. Ezra-Nehemiah
24. Chronicles

How can I comprehend the OT storyline?

Most people are familiar with the 10 Commandments and the Genesis creation and flood stories—but what is the full story? One useful acronym that outlines the history of the Jews is CASKET (see sidebar).

  • Creations. Genesis 1-11 serves as an introduction to the entire Bible, starting with Creation, the story of Adam and Eve, the flood, and the first languages and nations.
  • Abraham. Genesis 12-50 introduces the Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and Joseph, and God’s mission to bless the nations through them.
  • Sinai. In Exodus YHWH calls Moses to establish the nation of Israel, delivering them from slavery in Egypt through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, where Moses receives the Law, including the 10 Commandments.
  • Kings. Joshua leads them into the promised land, followed by a very confusing time under leaders called Judges until they finally appoint Kings. At first, the nation prospers under King David and Solomon, only to divide into two nations—The Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah).
  • Exile. The kings quickly assimilate pagan practices into their religion, ignoring YHWH’s voice through the Torah, Wisdom Literature (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes) and the Prophets. As a result, YHWH abandons them to Exile—Israel conquered by Assyria (722 BC), Judah conquered by Babylon (586 BC).
  • Temple. After 70 years of exile, YHWH restored the Jews to Jerusalem to build the second Temple (539 BC).


Creation (date uncertain)

Abraham (~2100-1450 BC)

Sinai (1450-1050 BC)

Kings (1050-586 BC)

Exile (586-539 BC)

Temple (539-430 BC)


What themes tie the OT and New Testament stories together?

The Hebrew Scriptures have been called “Jewish Meditation Literature” because of the unique cohesion that hyperlinks each of the OT stories back Genesis 1-11. The BibleProject traces many of these themes from Genesis to Revelation, seeing the Bible as one “unified story that leads to Jesus.” Here are few example themes that are further explored in the referenced 5–7-minute BibleProject Videos (BPV):

  • God—YHWH is the supreme spiritual being (elohim), introduced as the benevolent creator of humans who are his “image bearers” designed to inherit his dominion and establish his kingdom on earth as in heaven. BPV: God, Spiritual Being Series, Image of God.
  • The Torah (instruction or “law”) is YHWH’s gift to humanity to help them live as they were intended. YHWH spoke the world into existence through his “word”; establishing his covenant with Adam/Eve, Noah, Abraham, and Moses; providing the scriptures as instruction (Torah) for his people. Jesus appeared as God’s word or instruction (John 1:1) become flesh (John 1:14); our way, truth, and life (John 14:6); our wisdom (Col. 2:3). BPV: Law, How to Read the Bible Series.
  • The Garden of Eden established a Temple where YHWH and humans could cohabitate. Through scripture, YHWH continued to create sacred spaces where humans can fellowship with YHWH—altars, Tabernacle, Temple, the Church, and eventually the New Heaven and Earth. BPV: The City, Heaven & Earth, Eternal Life.

What’s next?

Journey with us as we explore the OT, this timeless library of sacred stories that invite us to live out our calling as YHWH’s beloved children, holy image bearers, people of every nation, tribe, and tongue belonging to the true Lord of Lords, Christ Jesus himself.